Disney Dining Plan or Pay With Cash?
I’ve seen a lot of blog posts out there criticizing the Disney Dining Plan on the grounds that it may or may not offer a significant cost savings depending on the restaurants you choose and what you order. Ok, that’s fair. But I’d like to share why our family wouldn’t do Disney World without the dining plan:
It’s a vacation.
Maybe some people enjoy budgeting. Not me. I don’t want to think about money when I’m on vacation. That doesn’t mean I go nuts and buy everything in the gift shop. It does mean that I don’t want to have to keep a running total in my head of how much each meal is going to cost, whether we’re over or under budget. I don’t want to stress about being broke by the end of the week because I didn’t pay close enough attention to prices at the beginning.
With the dining plan, it’s all taken care of — and we get to say yes to things we would normally pass up:
“Mom! Can we get dessert?”
Bill and I glance at each other out of sheer habit. Normally, when we go out to eat and somebody pipes up with the inevitable dessert question, we have to consider the cost. Those $4 desserts really add up when you multiply by 6 people. More often than not, the answer is “no.” They don’t need extra sugar anyway.
But the dining plan lets us shrug and say “why not?” Suddenly, cost isn’t part of the equation, and “extra sugar” becomes “they’re on vacation too.” No, we didn’t get dessert at every meal, but it was there as an option.
One hot afternoon last year, Bill took the older kids to Space Mountain while I took the younger ones to the Teacups — AMAZING sensory activity, by the way! — and we were finished before they were. They were hot, tired, and our little girl was on the verge of meltdown over something, and we passed the smoothie shop in Tomorrowland.
“Hey – do you guys want smoothies?” (Who’s the coolest mom around?)
There was a moment of dead silence, before Patrick’s face lit up and he bolted for the entrance.
The dining plan was worth every dime, and probably more, just for that one moment. It didn’t matter whether I had cash in my wallet, or whether they would spoil their dinner. It didn’t even matter if they were actually hungry. I knew there were more than enough snacks on the meal plan that we could get mid-afternoon smoothies just because the kids needed a break.